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Sunday, March 13, 2011

The town that drowned: 10,000 still missing in port town hit by megaquake as 275 aftershocks hamper rescue efforts


Before: A picture of the port town of Minamisanriku ahead of the devastating tsunami

10,000 people missing in Minamisanriku after double disaster

Official death toll hits 574, but many hundreds believed to be buried under rubble or washed away by waves

Explosion at nuclear power plant, but experts say reactor is not at risk

Number of people contaminated with radiation could reach 160

Region hit by hundreds of aftershocks, some up to 6.8-magnitude

Rescue operation begins but some areas still cut off by road damage and flood waters
70,000 people evacuated to shelters in Sendai

Force of quake shifts Japan 8ft to the East

Just 48 hours ago, it was a picturesque fishing town where tourists flocked to enjoy the coastal air and natural hot springs. But this horrifying picture shows all that remains of Minami Sanriku after it was destroyed by the tsunami that has wreaked devastation across Japan.

Last night, the official death toll from Friday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tidal wave stood at 574, but more than 1,700 people are believed to have been buried in the rubble or washed away by waves.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by hundreds of aftershocks, and it is feared the final death count could rise sharply once a full picture of the catastrophe emerges. In Minami Sanriku alone, 10,000 people could have died – more than half of the city’s population.

Obliterated: Where there was once a thriving town, buildings are now covered with mud in Minamisanriku town, Miyagi after the tsunami drowned the entire town

Utter destruction: Stunned local, lucky enough to survive, survey the appalling damage left by Fridays tsunami reducing a once-thriving coastal town to a desolate landscape of broken wood and twisted metal

It only took a few minutes for the 30ft wave to wash the town away with terrifying force. The locals desperately tried to escape to higher ground. But most did not stand a chance.

It is hard to imagine any life remains among the debris. Where last week fishing boats bobbed in the harbour, it is now impossible to tell where the sea begins and the land ends.

One of the few buildings left standing is the town’s Shizugawa Hospital – the large white building to the centre left of this picture. But the rest of what was once the town centre is flooded with filthy sea water.

Other structures lie battered and smashed in piles of broken wood and twisted metal, but most are now little more than debris.

Just visible through the murky waters towards the bottom left of the photograph are the painted stripes of a zebra crossing.

Flooded: Soldiers brought in to help with the rescue operation walk across debris and mud in Minamisanriku

Surveying the damage: Soldiers walk along a road past an iron girder that has been uprooted from the ground and a fire that is still smoking in Minamisanriku

Scale of destruction: A tanker has been washed ashore by the massive wave in Kamaishi City

There are vague remnants of roads and the occasional outline of a flooded car, and it is just possible to see the half-submerged outline of the town’s athletics track towards the top left of the picture.

Minami Sanriku lies about 55 miles west of the earthquake’s epicentre and directly in the path of the subsequent tsunami.

Japan has experienced more than 275 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater since Friday's earthquake, further hampering rescue efforts.

Some have been as powerful as 6.8-magnitude, and it is feared that if an aftershock of a magnitude over 7 occurred it could cause another tsunami.

A pile of burnt out vehicles that were ready to be exported are piled in disarray at a port at Tokai village in Ibaraki prefecture

source: dailymail


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